Both Agar and Gelatin are essential ingredients in the preparation of desserts worldwide. The main difference between agar and gelatin is the source from which they are derived. Agar is a vegetarian substitute for Gelatin since it is derived from a plant and has higher gelling properties.

Comparison chart

Agar versus Gelatin comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartAgarGelatin
Definition Agar is a gelatinous substance that is originally made from seaweed. Gelatin is a colorless and odorless substance that is made from the collagen found inside animal bones and skin.
Other Uses Agar is used for conducting microbiological tests, as impression substance in dentistry, as a laxative and in electrochemistry. Gelatin is used widely in photography, cosmetics and ammunition amongst others.
Usage Agar is a chief ingredient in desserts in certain parts of the world especially in Japan. Gelatin is a more popular ingredient in desserts and confectioneries in most parts of the world.
Form The agar used in food comes in 2 forms – strip agar and agar powder. Gelatin comes in the form of powder, granules or sheets.
Other names Agar is derived from the Malay word agar-agar known as jelly and is also referred to as Kanten, China grass or Japanese isinglass. Gelatin, in common parlance, remains the same but is known by several other terms in the industrial context.
Cooking Needs to be brought to a boil in order for the setting to occur. Can be dissolved in warm liquid and left to set.

Differences in Source

While agar is derived from red algae, gelatin is made mainly from the collagen present in pork skins, pork and cattle bones, or split cattle hides. Contrary to popular belief, horns and hooves are not used.

Properties of Agar vs Gelatin

Agar melts at 85 degrees Celsius and solidifies between 32 and 40 degrees Celsius. Gelatin melts at 35 degrees Celsius and solidifies at low temperatures but the exact gelling would depend upon the concentration and time of standing.

Differences in Form and Shape

Agar is white and translucent and sold as either strips or as a powder. Gelatin is colorless, translucent and odorless solid substance and comes in the form of granules, powder or sheets.

The following video explains the various properties of agar:

Nutritional Properties

Agar is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high is calcium, folate, iron and vitamins amongst others. It is ideal for people interested in weight loss and maintaining good health. Gelatin, although comprises 98 to 99% protein, if eaten exclusively results in net loss of protein and malnutrition.

Scientific Uses

In March 2014, a study was released in the journal Heritage Science that revealed agar gel can be used to clean old buildings and sculpted items. It is particularly good at removing soluble salts and soot particles.


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"Agar vs Gelatin." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2022. < >